Sunday, January 5, 2014

Randi's Favorite Things From 2013

So I realize I didn't make a lot of posts in 2013, so I think I'm just going to do a nice little round up of things you should know about that were awesome.

1. Paramore by Paramore- After losing founding Farro brothers, it was questionable whether or not Paramore could continue as a band. Not only did they continue, they excelled past any of their previous works. This album manages to use sounds from all of their past albums while still adding new textures and styles. Not to mention the ukulele interludes are pretty cool too.
Key Tracks: Ain't It Fun, Fast in My Car, Anklebiters, Part II, Grow Up, and (One of Those) Crazy Girls.

2. Thor: The Dark World- If I had to pick between Marvel's two big releases this year, this one beats Iron Man 3 by a long shot. Which is not a slight, they're both great blockbuster flicks (although I will say I like IM3's after-credits scene better). But character development, Christopher Eccleston as Malekith (spelling is a weird thing in the comic book world, friends. Forgive any errors), Kat Denning's side stealing sass, and the incomparable Tom Hiddleston as the even more incomparable Loki made this movie completely amazing. May the Marvel gods smile upon the Thor franchise, and grant us another movie, especially if it was as much fun as this one.
Best Scene: Loki's backseat driving, or the ending.

3. Catching Fire. This is literally the most perfect book to movie adaptation there had ever been. The dialog is accurate, and if the best nitpick the fans can come up with is about a watch, you know you've done good. Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely amazing as Katniss, and newcomers Jena Malone and Jeffery Wright shine as well. And of course, Woody Harrelson steals scenes as inebriated yet whip smart mentor Haymitch. Everything about this movie is way better than the first, and a pitch perfect adaptation of it's source material. Director Francis Lawrence is signed on for the two part finale of Mockingjay, and I'm ready and willing to see what he's got in store for us.
Best Scene: Johanna stripping down in the elevator or anything containing Jennifer Lawrence.

4. Pure Heroine by Lorde. And the most clever album name of the year goes to this New Zealand singer whose dubious beginnings in the recording industry have nonetheless paid off in this mesmerizing debut. It's a very sparse album, usually just a pulse and some synths with layers of her voice, and it deals with the themes of corruption and the upper crust better than most of the artists who have attempted such a thing (Looking at you, Lana Del Rey). The tone of the album is the same most of the time, making it a bit monotonous towards the middle, and none of it is as commercially friendly as radio hit "Royals", but it is a very promising start.
Key Tracks: Team, Ribs, Glory and Gore, A World Alone, and of course, Royals.

5. Kinky Boots. Based on a little seen 2006 Brit-com movie about a shoe factory, on the edge of bankruptcy, turning to making boots for drag queens to stay afloat. It's a funny, emotional, and groovy story with even groovier music and the performance of a lifetime by Billy Porter, playing drag queen Lola. The score (written by Cyndi Lauper) is very pop and a lot of fun, but also packs the emotional punch needed for the story. It manages to be fun and be a sort of "moral of the story" type of show without being preachy. Also, the choreography is particularly good (when it involves conveyor belts, I'm in) and the set design is very clever. Stark Sands and Analeigh Ash also play a great couple, and their respective character solos are pretty much amazing. Find the bootleg on youtube, and prepare to be amazed, although the show will be doing a tour soon.
Key Tracks: Not My Father's Son, The History of Wrong Guys, Soul of A Man,  Land of Lola, Raise You Up/Just Be

6. Pacific Rim. I'm amazed I managed to restrain myself for this long. Pacific Rim was pretty much my favorite thing that happened this year at the movie's, and if you want to read more about all my feelings about it and such, I have a review here. But in short, a great female hero, a wonderfully diverse and skilled cast, and GIANT MONSTERS EATING THINGS.

7. Welcome to Night Vale. A podcast that takes after H.P. Lovecraft and makes you feel like you're part of this small desert community, where a giant glow cloud runs the school board, interns die like red shirts in Star Trek, the dog park is unknown territory, librarians are evil, and nobody really knows who owns this radio station. Our narrator Cecil gives us the scoop on everything in this whacky little town. Combining witty satire, flat out weirdness, and an indie music spot, Welcome To Night Vale is one of the coolest, and weirdest, things I've ever had the fortune to listen to.

There are probably a lot more things that should go on this list, but this is just a taste. Here's to 2014!

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